Congratulations for the month of November goes to Shawn Reeves (FEP Username: Dadsccat
) and his 1983 Mercury Capri Crimson Cat. Shawn’s journey with the Crimson Cat began June 29, 1983 when his Father, Wayne Reeves, purchased the brand new car at Nemeth Lincoln Mercury in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Wayne kept the car for 15 year always storing it during the winter, but still adding some performance modification along the way.
Wayne passed way in 2011 and at that time; Shawn decided he wanted to get his Dad’s ole’ Mercury back. Shawn’s brother had seen the Capri sitting in the guy’s driveway under a tattered tarp. He approached the owner of the Capri and asked about purchasing the car. The owner wasn’t interested in selling, he had taken the car apart a short while after purchasing it and it had been sitting in his driveway as a rolling chassis basically rotting away ever since.
Fast forward to September 2014, Shawn turns the Big 5.0 and is surprised by his wife who had made a deal with the owner to bring the car home to Shawn as his birthday present. She didn’t know what she had gotten herself into, because the car needed a lot of work. Being the great wife that she is, she gave Shawn the green light to restore the Crimson Cat the way Shawn really wanted to. Fortunately for Shawn and his wife, most of the original parts were included (in boxes) although not much of the mechanical parts were reusable. Shawn got the car on September 29th
, 2014 and within two weeks a full rotisserie restoration had begun. Shawn did the legwork and sourced all the parts, but had Klear Kustoms in Dunnville, Ontario do the actual restoration work. The Capri was completed and licensed one year later on September 29, 2015 and had its first drive in over 15 years that same day.
Shawn’s goal for the Capri was to look as stock as possible. The body was solid and all the original panels were intact. The driver’s door and front fender were damaged, but both were able to be repaired. The interior was all there, but only about 50% of it was actually salvageable. Shawn saved all the interior parts he could, but did install a new headliner, carpet, dash pad, as well as new foam and upholstery for the seats. Shawn’s Dad had replaced the TRX wheels with turbine wheels from an 87 GT Mustang and the TRX wheels had been tossed long ago so Shawn had to spend hours upon hours sourcing not just the Crimson Cat wheels but also the center caps. He bought new TRX tires ($$$$) and refinished the turbines, with some gold insets, for using when he doesn’t want to worry about a little rubber being burned off.
Shawn was able to get an 83 Capri L donor car which came in really handy considering the Crimson Cat had been completely dismantled. Not only was Shawn able to lean on the donor car for parts but also reference for reassembly. Shawn’s father had an aftermarket sunroof dealer installed when he bought the car and the donor car had a factory sunroof. Shawn debated installing the factory roof during restoration but his wife talked me out of it because it was his dad’s car so it should stay the way he had it. He kept the factory roof just in case. The major body work for Shawn included replacing the floor, front frame rails, and the front inner aprons. The rest of the body was in excellent shape.
Since the engine in the Capri had been replaced by Shawn’s Dad many years earlier, Shawn felt a performance engine would be right in line with Dad’s wishes. A 308 Ford crate engine was sourced to give the original look, but extra power and performance. To handle the extra power the original 4 speed was swapped for a T5 5 speed. To exhaust all the power of the new crate engine, Shawn installed Pypes stainless steel shorties, a BBK catted H pipe, and a Dynomax Ultra Flow cat back system. All of this power is controlled by a nice set of subframe connectors, and all new rear suspension control arms.
The restoration/rebuilding of the Crimson Cat was particularly challenging due to the condition the car was in when Shawn brought it home. Honestly if not for Shawn’s labor of love in memory of his Father, the odds are this Capri would have never seen the road again. Almost every single part on the Cat has been renewed or replaced. Sourcing original parts was the most challenging as so many other Four Eyed owners and especially Capri owners know all too well. The Capri and Mercury badges had to be refinished since they were impossible to source in black and gold. Shawn was able to lean on FEP members to find a Sport wheel for the Capri, but it wasn’t leather and took a ton of begging and sweet talking his trim installer to leather wrap it for him, but luckily it paid off and looks spectacular. Shawn’s trim guy assured him that would the last wheel he ever does. After that all the final assembly began and the Capri slowly began to look like a complete car again. Shawn stopped by constantly as the parts and pieces were installed on the freshly painted shell. The wait was nerve racking, wondering if everything was going to work out as Shawn’s dream and planning had intended. Little joys were found every day from simple things such as the beeping the horn for the first time in many years to finally hearing the roar of the new engine when it was fired up for the first time and the Capri came back to life.
The biggest reason the car is alive and well today is because it was his Dad’s car. Shawn has loved the car since his Dad bought it new when he was 18 years old. Shawn being a car guy didn’t let Dad go car shopping without him. The two of them headed out in Dad’s 1980 Blazer looking for something a bit sportier. Shawn convinced Dad to check out a Mustang GT, then they stopped by the Mercury dealership and there it was! Once Dad saw the bubble back the Mustang was no longer a consideration. He immediately loved the car, but still ended up driving a Black Magic at another Mercury dealership. Dad debated over the two special edition Capris, but ultimately the Crimson Cat won in the end. Dad kept the Capri for 15 years and was the only car he ever owned for more than 4 or 5 years as it was that special to him.
Shawn’s special connection to the Capri started from day one. His Dad took delivery of the Cat at home after coming off a midnight shift. The salesperson delivered the Capri to the house and wrapped up the paper work with Dad and thereafter he immediately went to bed. Shawn’s Mother needed to visit a friend, so of course the new Capri was chosen to drive everyone. Shawn was the lucky one that drove the Capri for its maiden voyage carrying his Mom and two brothers to the friend’s house. Shawn was driving to the friend’s house down a two lane highway at about 50 MPH. He started to make the right turn into the friend’s driveway when a 60’s Impala was coming up behind him. For an unknown reason the Impala was traveling well over 60 MPH and couldn’t stop in time and decided to pass the Capri on the right shoulder just as Shawn was turning into the driveway. Shawn caught a glimpse of the Impala in the side mirror just as he slammed on the brakes. To this day Shawn swears the Impala drove right through them without touching them. Luckily no collision occurred in what would have been certain death for everyone in the Capri. The Capri barely survived it’s first day with the family, but the bond was instant. To drive the Capri again 33 years later was surreal to say the least. The Crimson Cat is a tribute to his Dad and all the memories of both of them. Shawn is very proud of the restoration that far exceeds any residual value for a Mercury Capri, but the satisfaction and fulfilment of a job well done make it priceless.
Thank you to Shawn and his family for sharing their Crimson Cat Mercury Capri with the FEP members. We greatly appreciate the dedication to reviving such an awesome car and thoroughly enjoy reading the stories and memories that accompany it. Here’s to wishing Shawn and the Capri many years and miles of happy motoring.